1. Seeking to quell Yellow Vest anger, Macron says some of the poor are just “screwing around”
Macron had planned to try to quell a rising tide of economic anger with a speech in Normandy announcing a round of public gatherings that would form a “grand national debate” on the issues facing France, from tax reform to green energy.
But instead he sparked an immediate backlash while on a surprise visit to the town of Gasny by seeming to suggest that many of those struggling economically had only themselves to blame.
Even as the French president expressed his desire to help people in “difficult economic circumstances” by making them “more responsible”, he mused that while some were “doing the right thing” others were just “screwing up.”
His sentiments, as well as the vulgar expression he used in French, sparked immediate reactions on social media from politicians on both the left and the right.
Socialist politician Olivier Faure was one of the first to fire back.
“I want to answer the president: There are rich people who are good citizens and rich people who screw up, and who seriously screw up,” he told Reuters. “This way of always ... [suggesting] that it is the poorest who are committing the abuses cannot be countenanced.”
2. 40 arrested and two killed by torture in fresh anti-gay crackdown in Chechnya, activists claim
Forty men and women have been detained and at least two have died in an anti-gay purge in Russia's Chechnya republic that is even more brutal than a 2017 crackdown, according to activists.
After the administrator of an LGBT social media group was detained in December, Chechen law enforcement began rounding up suspected homosexuals, LGBT Network said on Monday. It is holding people without charge in an infamous prison where gay men have previously said they were tortured, local residents told activists.
One of the captives died after officials repeatedly cut him with a knife during an interrogation, Igor Kochetkov of LGBT Network told The Telegraph.
“We can already say that the torture being suffered by those detained is savage, much worse than for those detained in 2017,” he said. “We know of two dead, but probably more have been killed.”
For the first time, women are also being systematically detained for presumed homosexuality, he added.
[...] Accused of kidnappings and extrajudicial executions, Chechnian President, Ramzan, has stamped out dissent and a simmering Islamist insurgency with often brutal methods. At the same time, he has turned Chechnya into an increasingly conservative Muslim society.
3. Kenya terror attack: Huge EXPLOSION at Nairobi hotel - police swoop as gunmen open fire
EXPLOSIONS and gunfire have rocked a luxury hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital Nairobi with witnesses claiming the building is “under attack” and police and anti-terrorist forces are fighting to regain control of the area.
At least one person was killed and eight injured a hospital official said, but local media is reporting at least three people have been killed in the raid. Initial reports from the scene said a suicide bomber led the attack and up to six gunmen were seen entering the complex in an upmarket area of the sprawling city. Police commander Philip Ndolo said armed units had cordoned off the area surrounding the DusitD2 hotel on Riverside Drive in the city. [...]
Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's military operations spokesman, said: “We are behind the attack in Nairobi. The operation is going on. We shall give details later.”
4. Mozambique: Islamist militants suspected in Cabo Delgado killings
Militant Islamists are suspected to have killed 12 people in northern Mozambique as they shift attacks to vehicles despite increased army patrols on main roads.
Most of the victims died in attacks on cars and buses in the gas-rich, Muslim-majority Cabo Delgado region where militants have carried out attacks in remote communities for more than a year.
The murders mark a shift in strategy that had previously targeted isolated homes.
Four people were killed and four others wounded early on Saturday while driving near the town of Manilha, according to a police officer based near Mocimboa da Praia, in one of the worst-hit zones.
5. Maduro opponent: Hezbollah exploiting Venezuela gold mines
An MP opposed to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro revealed that the Lebanese Hezbollah group was exploiting gold mines in his country in order to finance its “destabilizing terrorist activity in the Middle East.”
MP Americo De Grazia said that the armed group owns two mines in the Orinoco Mining Arc project that is supported by Maduro.
He said that cooperation between the Venezuelan government and Hezbollah is mutually beneficial for both parties.
The government, he explained, was generating a lot of revenues from the partnership, while the group was making economic profits and avoiding international sanctions.
6. Warrant issued as man charged with sexual assault at Alberta hotel pool flees to Pakistan
A warrant has been issued for a Calgary man accused of inappropriately touching a woman and two young girls at a Lethbridge, Alta., hotel pool in 2016, as his lawyer says his client has returned to Pakistan.
Widjan Yasir, 30, was charged with two counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference with a minor.
Police had responded to a hotel in the 2300 block of Mayor Magrath Drive South after receiving a complaint that a man had inappropriately touched a woman and two young girls in the swimming pool.
Yasir was arrested at the hotel. The victims weren't known to the accused, police said at the time.
7. Canadian caught in Syria was commander of ISIS unit, according to U.S.-backed forces
The latest Canadian captured in Syria was the commander of more than a dozen fighters who clashed with U.S.-backed forces in the last remaining ISIS enclave, according to a local official.
The former Toronto resident, Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed, was armed with a Kalashnikov rifle and a handgun when he was detained on Sunday by the Syrian Democratic Forces.
While he was not carrying any identity documents, Mohammed allegedly told interrogators he was a 31-year-old Canadian citizen of Ethiopian origin, and a former student at Toronto’s Seneca College.
Under questioning, he said he had joined ISIS over the internet and left Canada in 2013 with the aim of spreading the Islamic faith in the world, a local commander said.
8. Mayor of Gdansk, Poland, dies after being stabbed on stage
WARSAW, Poland — The mayor of a city in Poland died after he was stabbed in the heart on stage Sunday during the finale of a large charity event.
Doctors operated for five hours on Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz, who was attacked Sunday by an ex-convict who rushed onto the stage with a knife, shouting it was revenge against a political party Adamowicz had previously belonged to.
Adamowicz — who has been the city's mayor for more than 20 years — grabbed his belly and collapsed in front of the audience at the highly popular annual fundraiser organized by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity.
Polish blood donors came out in droves in a bid to save his life, but Poland's health minister said Adamowicz, 53, died of his wounds on Monday.
9. Spain arrests 17 in ongoing Catalonia anti-terror operation
Authorities in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia said 17 people, including five alleged members of an extremist Islamist cell, were arrested Tuesday as part of an ongoing anti-terror operation.
As well as having terror links, the suspects also allegedly participated in theft, drug trafficking and other crimes, according to the Mossos d'Esquadra regional police.
More than 100 agents took part in the operation, which was ongoing as of mid-afternoon, a spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman said six venues had been searched in and near Barcelona, the regional capital. She declined to be identified by name in line with the police force's standard practices.
Catalan regional minister of security, Miquel Buch, told reporters most of the arrests took place in a central Barcelona neighborhood, but some were made in the nearby town of Igualada.
10. Paedophile who wore Batman pyjamas on Grindr profile as he and his friend tried to meet schoolboys for sex are snared by vigilantes and both jailed for a total of nearly four years
Ashfaq Ahmed, 21, and Yasir Jibran, 35, discussed finding an underage boy to exploit after meeting each other through dating app Grindr.
Ahmed sent a series of explicit messages and pictures to what he thought were four male children, aged between 13 and 15, over the site within a few days in April 2017.
When he and Jibran turned up with condoms and lubrication to meet a 15-year-old, they were greeted by Guardians of the North, who had created the “child” profiles.
The pair were jailed at Newcastle Crown Court after being caught out by the group, which sets up fake accounts on social media and dating sites to snare paedophiles.